Kendall Qualls, a Republican canidate for Minnesota’s 3rd congressional seat, blasted his opponent, incumbent Democrat Dean Phillips in a press release, Monday.
Phillips “has attempted to convey the Black-American experience and redefine America in the process,” the release says. However, Qualls, a Black American himself, says that Phillip’s “virtue signaling” and recent claim that “racism is deeply ingrained…in our institutions, and in our everyday lives” falls flat.
“In response to my opponent,” Qualls writes, “I’m going to tell you what it’s really like to be a Black man in America.”
“My opponent’s virtue signaling insults me, and it should insult you too. Dean Phillips got his degree in Urban Studies from an Ivy League School in the Northeast. I got my degree in Urban Studies from the streets of Harlem in New York City,” he begins.
“Yet, unlike him [Phillips], I’m not going to lecture you on the evils of white people, or guilt you into believing that ‘white privilege’ makes you personally responsible for slavery and the struggles Black people face today,” Qualls continues.
Qualls also notes that Phillips is the third wealthiest congressman in America, contrasting his posh background with his own experiences growing up in both Harlem and a trailer park in Oklahoma.
“Do I begrudge him [Phillips] for his wealth? No, because this is America and everyone has a right to pursue prosperity and happiness,” Qualls says. However, he also accuses wealthy elites like Phillips of dominating the conversation about race while doing little to affect actual change.
“[As a child] I remember big city politicians and urban elites calling America racist because Black-Americans struggled in the inner cities. Not much has changed. Black-Americans still struggle, the same urban elites dominate the conversation, and yet they present no fundamental plan for change. Empty platitudes and a reading list for white people won’t solve the struggles in the Black community,” he says.
His remark about a reading list is a clear allusion to a list of literature about race that Phillips recommends to his constituents.
“Today, we have a unique opportunity to put forth a model for racial healing and economic prosperity for all. The truth is when Black Americans prosper, we all prosper. But we will not get there by destroying monuments to abolitionists, removing
Before running for congress, Qualls served in the U.S. Army as a Field Artillery Officer. In the private sector, he has worked in healthcare, leading teams at Johnson & Johnson, Roche Labs and Medtronic/Covidien. His most recent healthcare-related position was as a executive with a startup that helps cancer patients.
Phillips is present in his first congressional term after he won by just 5% in 2018. In 2000, he was named the president of an inherited family business: the Phillips Distilling Company. The distillery owns the brand “Sour Puss,” Canada’s best selling liqueur, as well as UV Blue and 14 other brands.